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'Act East' policy puts ASEAN at centre of engagement with Indo-Pacific: Prez


'Act East' policy puts ASEAN at centre of engagement with Indo-Pacific: Prez
President Ram Nath Kovind Image Credit: ANI

Underlining that ASEAN-India relations are special, President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said India's "Act East" policy puts the region at the centre of its engagement with the Indo-Pacific. Addressing the India-Philippines Business Conclave and the 4th ASEAN-India Business Summit here, President Kovind said the ASEAN is one of the most economically dynamic regions of the world today.

Emphasizing that India has deep political and people-to-people relations with each and every country in the ASEAN, he said India wants to bring the economic and business relations up to the same level. Noting that ASEAN-India trade has jumped significantly in the past few years, President Kovind said,"We still have a long distance to cover to reach the target of USD 200 billion by 2022."

Effective use of existing mechanisms, particularly the ASEAN-India Business Council can go a long way in realizing this goal, he said. The president expressed hope that just as Indian companies see significant opportunities in the region, the ASEAN business community also recognizes the tremendous business potential in India.

He said that India wishes to participate in ASEAN's growth story and it invites all of the ASEAN to participate in its. Speaking on the Philippines-India ties, the president said the potential for the economic collaboration between the two countries is significant.

Kovind arrived in the Philippines on Thursday as part of his five-day state visit to the country. President Kovind, who held wide-ranging discussions with President Duterte on Friday, said the two counties have agreed to take forward and broaden bilateral ties, in particular trade and economic relations.

"The Philippines is our natural partner in the ASEAN region. In recent years, we have seen an up-swing in bilateral trade and investment. We need to not just maintain the present momentum but to accelerate it further," he said. Both countries share mutual complementarities which can be utilized to deepen trade and investment ties, he said.

"Both India and the Philippines are among the fastest-growing economies; both possess large, young and aspirational population; both are invested in new technologies, innovation and start-ups; both are services powerhouse; and both are committed to inclusive growth, fighting corruption and bringing about transformative changes in people's life," he said. He said India's "Make in India" and next-generation infrastructure programs and the Philippines' "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure initiative present immense opportunities for companies and investors on both sides.

"The Indian pharma and healthcare sectors offer immense value to the Philippines. There is scope to enhance partnership in several other areas - from trade, investment, services, agriculture, engineering to new technologies," the president said. Underlining that the Philippines-India business story is an encouraging one, he said while bilateral trade has shown continuous progress, the real gain has been the collaboration in the IT-BPO segment.

He said leading Indian IT majors have set up enterprises in Manila creating job opportunities for the youth and value addition for the global economy. "As we race into the digital age, we have immense opportunities before us to fill e-commerce shelves, create fin-tech services, develop imaginative entertainment platforms, and power green and clean solutions," the president said.

The president said that in recent years, India-Philippines have seen two-way investment grow in infrastructure and energy sectors. "More prospects wait to be converted into concrete projects, from airport terminals, LNG pipelines to waste management solutions," he underlined.

Speaking at a State Banquet, the president said this year is a landmark in the bilateral journey. "I have undertaken this State visit to the Philippines to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations and to yet again commit ourselves to the Philippines-India bilateral partnership." He said even as the two countries look to the future, "we are keen to trace our old civilizational links".

"I have no doubt that there exists a rich tapestry of our shared heritage waiting to be researched and documented. The discovery of the statue of Tara in Agusan and the commonality in our languages and thought speak of vibrant cultural exchanges in the ancient past. And much to our delight, our contemporary cultural attributes, be it music or dance, Karaoke or Kathak, continue to bring our two peoples closer," he said. Earlier this morning, the president met and interacted with the parents of babies who underwent liver transplant in India under the Philippine – India Pediatric Liver Transplant Programme.

On the occasion, the President was happy to note that India's engagement in the Philippines has brought people's causes and life-giving projects within its expanding ambit.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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